There are a few things we can expect from Labor Day weekend, and the annual Electric Zoo festival is one of them. The massive three-day rave takes over Randall’s Island with twelve-hour days that boast a million DJs over four separate stages; you’ll hear trance, techno, deep house, electro, dubstep, bass, and whatever it is that Snoop Dogg DJs live. Yeah, Snoop Dogg—aka DJ Snoopadelic—is playing a mainstage set alongside the debut live performance by Ritchie Hawtin’s Plastikman, electropop icon Calvin Harris, and our old friend Moby.
There’s plenty to be seen elsewhere, though, and the acts we most look forward to are usually hidden among the smaller stages. While electro-rave (Sebastian, Busy P, Skrillex, Crookers, Fake Blood) and megaproducers (Afrojack, Diplo, Tiesto) dominate, we’re more drawn to SBTRKT, Josh Wink, MSTRKFT, and Jack Beats, not to mention house and techno legends like Carl Cox, Danny Tenaglia, and the Martinez Brothers. As far as the audience is concerned, you can expect crazy costumes, Euro rave queens, shirtless teenagers, and PLUR’ed-out hippies alongside your average dance enthusiast. To quote SNL’s Stefon, “This thing has got it all.” Set times, ticket prices, transportation, and everything else can be found at the Electric Zoo website. For other weekend options, look below.
If you’re not up for island-hopping on Friday night, the city has more than enough to keep you occupied. We’re not sure what exactly is going on with Santos’ crossover of Friday night parties after the end of Re-Opened a few months ago, but it looks like they might replace Just Blaze’s residency with one by Stretch Armstrong. Tonight the legend takes over the main floor alongside Jasmine Solano and King Solomon for the club’s That Shit party. We’ll expect you’ll hear plenty of hip-hop, New Jack Swing, and club, as well as some classic disco and house. Doors at 11 p.m., tickets are $20 at the door. Meanwhile, you can find parts of the old cast of Re-Opened at their newly inaugurated Good Fridays fete at Tammany Hall. Tonight ?uestlove joins resident DJ Soul with hip-hop, funk, soul, RnB, and other good vibes on the main floor. In the basement, fellow resident Max Glazer provides a soundtrack of dancehall, reggae, and hopefully some soca in celebration of Carnival weekend. Doors at 10, $10 at the door. And to get your share of all of the above without the cover charge. Try Cayenne for Rok One and DJ Moma’s weekly Hot Music sweat-fest at Cayenne. Unpretentious people and easy good vibes, though you will have to go outside for a breather every now and then. It gets packed.
If you’re in Williamsburg for the night, head to Public Assembly for Lloydith Fair, aka Lloydski’s birthday disco. We’re hoping the DJ will make it onto the turntables for a set at some point but, if not, you’ll have Whatever/Whatever remix king Justin Strauss, Populette’s Max Pask, and a slew of “special guests.” Expect disco and house and then more of the same. Tickets are $5 at the door. If you’re looking for house party vibes, try Huckleberry Bar. Tonight’s First Friday is the bar’s last as they’ve recently decided to cut DJs from their payroll. It’s a shame, too, as resident Benny B is one of our favorites for a fun mix of newer dance tracks, raps, and everything in between. Check out his Warm Up Mix for an idea of what to expect earlier in the evening. No cover.
Kick off your Saturday bright and early at the Late Summer Sounds “back to school” outdoor concert in Brooklyn. The free show starts at noon and features performances by Akua Taylor, Iyadede, Kalae All Day, and our favorite, Blitz the Ambassador. The man combines his mix of politics, rap, African-influenced drums, and an amazing jazz-influenced backing band—the Embassy Ensemble—to make for one hell of a live performance. Later that night head over to the last Rub of the summer. DJ Ayres, DJ Eleven, and Cosmo Baker’s monthly party at Southpaw will feature its usual mix of hip-hop, reggae, RnB, new jack swing, the occasional mini-set of dance records, and whatever else they decide to surprise us with. Doors at 10 p.m. We’ll recommend that you get there before midnight, though, because waiting in line for an hour is no fun for anyone.
And if you’re city-side, we’ll send you to Le Poisson Rouge for their Beleza Brazilian Day celebration. The epic lineup features ’90s samba sensation Johnson do Cavaco & 2Guedinho Band, the melding of electronic music and Brazilian music via MDM Percussion Grooving, the Latin-influenced house and dance DJ Miller Cruz and special samba performance by Leticia, Lina & Mariko. Tickets are $15 before midnight, $20 after. Holding off on Carnival-themed partying? Try Santos for the What the Funk? party featuring DJ Spinna and Rich Medina. As the flyer would suggest, you’ll be hearing a heavy dose of the funk greats, James Brown and Fela. Now that Spike Lee’s annual Michael Jackson birthday fete with Spinna is canceled, we’re hoping the DJ will throw together a mini-tribute here instead. Tickets are $10.
There are only two options for Sunday night, both of which are close to our hearts. Tiki Disco, the weekly Sunday dance party at Roberta’s, rages on this weekend with residents Eli Escobar, Andy Pry, and Lloydski. The outdoor party defines summer in that it starts early in the afternoon and lingers on into the night, comes with brick-oven pizza, and features a mix of disco, New Wave, newer underground dance tracks, and other feel-good jams. Get there on the earlier side if you want to get in, though—we’d suggest you go for brunch and plan on staying til after midnight. Capacity can’t be more than 200, and this is the type of place where there are folks with “membership cards” that can skip the line.
While Tiki Disco bears the tagline that “Summer isn’t over,” Mister Sunday is closing up shop until next year. Residents Eamon Harkin and Justin Carter will take on Gowanus Grove for their last hurrah of summer, but we’re more excited about the afterparty at Littlefield. Technically it’s a rescheduled Mister Saturday Night from when Irene was in town, so all tickets from last Saturday will be honored. More importantly, the night’s guest is Glasgow’s amazing Optimo. You can expect all the usual dance fair from this grouping—house, disco, techno, with the chance of some expertly mixed rock and pop thrown in from the night’s guest. Tickets are $10 with a stamp from the day party, $20 without.
If there’s one place you should absolutely be today, it’s at Eastern Parkway for the West Indian Day Parade. Hours of dancehall, soca, calypso, samba, reggae? Yes please. And we won’t even start on the amazing costumes, street dancing, food carts, or general Brooklyn love in the air today. Head over to the West Indian American Day Carnival Association’s website for the parade route and other info.
In the city, Fool’s Gold throws their annual free Day Off party in the parking lot behind City Winery. The daytime rager goes from 2-8 p.m. and, again, we’ll suggest you get there at the very beginning as the lines for these things are no joke. Also, we’d like for you to catch early sets by MPC-remixer Party Supplies and funky dance outfit Cubic Zirconia, two of the label’s newest additions. Other acts include live performances by Three Six Mafia’s Juicy J, rapper Danny Brown and DJ sets by rap producer-slash-house enthusiast Just Blaze, the Brothers Macklovitch (A-Trak & Dave1), tastemaker-slash-label head Nick Catchdubs, and king of the MPC Araabmuzik. There is a “secret guest” too, something that’s always super exciting at a Fool’s Gold party. Is it DJ Paul? Is Kanye making another appearance? No matter who the guest, you can’t really lose here. Especially when there’s grilled food and beers in store as well.